Just got back from a quick trip to Dallas. They say everything is bigger there. That saying is trite but my wife and I definitely saw some truth to it. The highways were bigger. The food portions were bigger. Even the people were bigger.
We arrived on Saturday night and went to dinner at Gemma, one of Dallas’s best restaurants if you use Opentable demand as a measure–I booked the reservation three weeks in advance and could still only get a 9:30pm slot. The food was amazing and well worth the money.
We stayed downtown at the Marriott City Center, not the most impressive hotel in the world but it sufficed. We didn’t love Downtown Dallas. Maybe it’s different on a weekday but on Sunday morning we felt like were in a scene in a post-apocalyptic movie. No one was around. Restaurants and cafes were few and far between. Just big skyscrapers, empty multi-story parking garages, little retail and no life.
The place I most wanted to see, Dealy Plaza, was about a mile away from the hotel, so I made the trek on foot, following along empty skyscraper canyons towards the city’s West End. It was still before 8am; the only people on the streets were the homeless. No one bothered me, but I did cross the street a few times to avoid some shady looking characters on the way.
The only person that acknowledged my camera-toting existence was a guy siting on a park bench under a tall tree in Dealy Plaza, near the Texas School Book Depository Building, from where Lee Harvey Oswald apparently shot JFK. Not knowing where I was, I walked right past the famous landmark when the man yelled out to me, “Yes, that’s it!” Turn around, you just went by it.” I stopped and backtracked to the front door of the building, realizing that I was standing next to what I was looking for. The man got up from his bench, crossed the empty street and began spouting off facts about the place, but I politely declined and told him I would rather tour the area alone. The same informal tour guide thing happened to me in Detroit—you can’t blame him the guy for being entrepreneurial—but I just wanted to see the place in peace.
I was struck by how small Dealy Plaza was. For some reason, I expected it to be a lot bigger. Seeing how small it was did lend credence to the Warren Commission findings that a shooter in that Sixth floor window —presumably Oswald—could have gotten a few accurate shots off from that distance. Down the street a little, I went up the grassy knoll, famous among conspiracy theorists.
I liked how the city froze the plaza in time so that it looks today much like it did the day of the shooting. The streetlights are vintage 60s. The wooden picket fence behind the knoll was even still there. And behind the grassy knoll the rail yard is still there, free from development The whole area is a time capsule. I guess the city can afford to have a time capsule there because no one lives downtown anyway.
Emily came to meet me at the plaza, and we had breakfast at Cindy’s NY Delicatessen, which was really a diner but misnamed. I had an omelet the size of my forearm; I could only heat half of it. It also came with hash browns and a side of pancakes.
We learned that there was a farmers market near the hotel, so we made our way across the still empty downtown area to find it. The market was a little disappointing, not in quality but in scale. Most of the stands sold things like local honey, syrup, pickled vegetables, coffees, teas, and soaps, but a few fruit and vegetables stands ringed the perimeter.
That afternoon, we took a cab up to Lower Greenville, a mainly residential but with a good strip of restaurants, bars, and shops along North Henderson and Greenville Avenues. We were happy to have lunch alongside other people at HGSply Co, a paleo restaurant that had a good balance of meat and vegetarian dishes. We went shopping in few clothing stores along North Henderson Avenue before heading to the Trunk Yard, a really cool outdoor bar shaded by tall trees and framed by food trucks serving BBQ and tex-mex. We were running short on time to get back our hotel for the football game so we settled on a bag of hot beignets.
That night, we went to the Giants-Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium, one of the biggest stadiums in the NFL. It was really impressive, but the 50 yard long jumbotron, suspended above the field, was so large that it kept stealing my attention from the actual play going on below. I thought, with this huge TV at the stadium attracting my eyes, why bother going to the game at all?
This was a quick trip–less than 36 hours, but gave me a little taste of Texas. Next time I hope to spend a little more time there.